In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments from around the industry you may have missed.
MEETING OF THE MINDS IN NEW YORK
It may have taken longer for the effects of volatile recycling markets to hit New York than some West Coast states, but that all began to change this summer. In a combination of China's doors closing even further as of late spring, and local media beginning to catch on to the broader narrative, the coverage has been near-constant in recent months. Local governments — both upstate and downstate — are feeling the heat in terms of cost increases, more limited end markets and a tighter focus on quality.
New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hasn't always been known as the most proactive when it comes to recycling issues, and is coming to this later than agencies in other states have, but is taking an important first step this afternoon. At the behest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the DEC is hosting an initial stakeholder meeting at 1 p.m. in Albany to "discuss impacts on the recycling markets and strategies to address the situation going forward."
An early version of the invite list obtained by Waste Dive includes a veritable who's who of the regional and national waste world. That includes Waste Management, Republic Services, Waste Connections subsidiary County Waste, Casella Waste Systems, Sims Municipal Recycling, Covanta, Wheelabrator and other regional players. The usual list of trade associations, including NWRA, SWANA and ISRI will also be in attendance. Many county or local governments, including New York's Department of Sanitation, will of course be there too.
Expectations for the meeting are measured, but many of those in the room will be well-versed in how this issue is playing out in other states and around the country. Waste Dive looks forward to hearing from any interested attendees and reporting on more concrete plans from the DEC as they develop.
IN OTHER NEWS
New food-scrap-to-fuel plant planned in Philadelphia — The Inquirer
RNG Energy Solutions, a company that converts organic waste into fuel for vehicles, has formed a new joint venture with Philadelphia Energy Solutions. The venture, called the Point Breeze Renewable Energy Project, will build a $120 million, 1,100 ton-per-day digester. It's expected to take two to three years to complete and could produce around 3 million cubic feet of biogas per day with an expected target market of truck fleets and municipal buses. It will also produce a certified-organic fertilizer product to be sold to the landscaping market. The announcement is in line with the city's broader goal of becoming a 90% "zero waste" city by 2035.
BioHiTech Global subsidiary gets green light for Albany, New York trash fuel plant — Times Union
The Planning Commission recently granted approval of the $35 million project and is negotiating a host-benefits package with the company. BioHiTech's plant — Rensselaer Engineered Fuels Facility — will produce solid fuel from mixed municipal waste at a 72,000-square-foot facility to be built at a former Air Force base. City officials see the project as a key step in reducing the amount of waste headed to Rapp Road Landfill, expected to close by 2026.
EREF study shows needlestick rates at MRFs — EREF
The Environmental Research & Education Foundation, in collaboration with SWANA, released a report yesterday that says 2.7 of every 100 MRF workers are stuck by needles. It references 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, saying "MRF injuries (including non-needlestick related) occur at a rate of 6 per 100 workers, suggesting 45 percent of MRF injuries could be attributed to needlesticks." Medical needles making their way into MSW streams is a big concern in the U.S. and Canada, with 53% of facilities in the study saying needles had been found either daily or several times per week. EREF estimates that "between 781 and 1,484 needlestick injuries may occur each year at U.S. MRFs."
Chinese fiber company to buy Kentucky pulp mill — Resource Recycling
The closed facility in Wickliffe, Kentucky is set for reopening after a Shanying International subsidiary inked a $16 million deal with North American paper manufacturer Verso. Shanying will sink $150 million into the facility in preparation for pulp and brown paper packaging production. The news comes after Chinese firm Nine Dragons acquired two paper mills in Maine and Wisconsin. Paper mills in China are undergoing a shortfall of feedstock and an ongoing trend shows more Chinese companies could begin investing in shuttered U.S. facilities to circumvent the country's restrictive scrap purity rules.
Sacramento County, California sanitation employee alleges racism in trial against county — The Sacramento Bee
Michael Asberry, an African-American former truck driver for the county's Department of Waste Management and Recycling, is saying he faced discrimination from supervisors for years. Asberry alleges that he experienced intimidation and payback in response to complaints over the treatment until being fired in 2016, the same year he initially filed the lawsuit. County attorneys have countered that Asberry was let go over poor attendance, safety concerns, a history of poor interviews and job performance.
ON THE AGENDA
(All times EDT)
- Composting Collaborative Webinar: Developing + Enforcing Commercial Organics Recycling Programs. (2-3:15 p.m.) Featuring government officials from San Diego, Hennepin County, Minn. and Prince George County, Md. Moderated by GreenBlue's Charlotte Dreizen.
- Colorado Association for Recycling Webinar: Metrics – What is Practical, What is Useful, and Where are Metrics Going? (3-4:15 p.m.) Featuring speakers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Resource Recycling Systems and Skumatz Economic Research Associates.
Do you have events or webinars that should be on our agenda this week? Email [email protected]